Funerals in Blyth Valley Team Ministry
If you are reading this, it may be because someone close to you has died or is dying. It may be that you are dying, or simply that you wish to make advance provision for your Funeral Service. It is important to understand that it is part of the ministry of the Priest, when asked, to be with the dying to comfort them and to prepare them for death. When someone is in danger of death or has died, it is appropriate to call out the Priest at any hour of the day or night.
It is the right of everyone to have a funeral service in church.
Soon after a person has died, you should contact the Priest at around the time you contact the Funeral Director, especially if you wish prayers to be said in the home in the presence of the body. As well as anointing the sick with holy oil, the Church of England will anoint the dying and pray at the deathbed. If a person dies or is dying in hospital, you may wish to contact the hospital Chaplain. Your parish priest will still look after you and arrange the Funeral Service with you.
Planning the Service
The Priest works closely with the Funeral Director to ensure that you have the kind of Funeral Service that best reflects the life of the person who has died. He or she will usually visit you at home, unless for some reason it is better to meet at the Rectory or Vicarage.
At a Funeral Service, there will be grief but there will also be thanksgiving for a person’s life. The person who has died is commended into the eternal love and mercy of God. There is a form of service that is flexible, and there is plenty of room for music, poetry, prose and prayer that reflects a person’s life.
As Christians, we trust that God is with us always, both in this life and in the world to come.
If a Funeral Service is to be followed by cremation, the entire service, including the Commital, can appropriately take place in the parish church. You may feel that all that is necessary can be done in church, and that there is no need to attend a crematorium. As the nearest crematorium to the Blyth Valley is 30 minutes' drive away, this makes it easier for the family to greet the people who have come to pay their respects and to support them, and perhaps to invite them for refreshments.
Many of our churchyards are still open for burial. After a service in a church where the churchyard is closed, interment may be at Halesworth Cemetery, which is administered by East Suffolk Council. There are also cemeteries at Wenhaston and Walpole administered by the Parish Council.
It is always possible to have a Service of Thanksgiving for a person’s life some time after the Funeral. Importantly, your connection with the Priest and the parish church need not end after the Funeral, unless you wish it to. There can be on-going support if requested.
Baptism, Marriage and the Funeral Office are collectively known as the “Pastoral Offices”.
In the Blyth Valley, we operate an ‘Open Door’ policy. All who have a kernel of faith, however small or tentative they feel it is, are invited to avail themselves of the ministry of the Church. In an ideal world, we would hope that those who come for Baptism and Marriage would have an awareness of the Church’s teaching and go through a period of preparation. However, we do not live in an ideal world: neither did Jesus. He accepted all who came to him and invited them to journey towards God’s kingdom. We seek to meet people where they are, because we believe that in the Pastoral Offices God’s grace is at work. In God’s time, not ours, we believe that his radical acceptance of each human being, which is focussed in the Pastoral Offices, will draw those who participate into a close and living relationship with him and with his Church.